Last week, the Mines campus found itself in the midst of a zombie outbreak. Onlookers jumped back in fear, staff members watched and laughed, and tour groups stared on in amazement as 99 students ran around campus with orange bandanas trying to tag, shoot (with foam darts), or whack one another.
This semester’s version of the game began with original zombies running around attempting to tag other players who were the humans. If the humans could not outrun or stun the zombies, they had to move their bandanas from their left arms to their heads, indicating that the zombies had turned them from humans to fellow zombies. Zombies were required to “feed” (make a successful tag) every 48 hours or else they would starve to death. The outbreak quickly spread across campus and it became a common site to see groups of students hurrying across campus, ready to fend off any attacking zombies with Nerf guns, foam swords, pool noodles, socks, marshmallows, and in one case, a magic wand.
The participants were given missions throughout the week which could be completed for various rewards. For the humans, missions included gathering supplies scattered across campus, incubating a cure, finding components of an antidote, rescuing some uncooperative princesses, a friendly game of capture the flag, building a tower to signal a helicopter, radioing the helicopter, and getting through the zombie horde to the safety of the helicopter. Upon completion of their missions, humans were rewarded with prizes such as snacks, antidotes, immunities to the zombie virus, black ops humans, and extra knowledge for the next mission. As zombies are generally not the brightest of creatures, their missions usually just consisted of trying to eat the humans and stop them from completing their designated mission. The zombies were able to get special power-ups, free brains, and a free day when the humans could not use their melee weapons.
Before the final mission of the game, wherein the humans tried to make it to a helicopter which would take them to safety, there were 69 active players (players who were still in the game and had not died of starvation), with 28 humans and 41 zombies. 15 humans managed to grab onto the helicopter and survive the game, including one stuffed animal survivor named Kaiser Bunny.
The participants all walked away from the final mission with smiles on their faces and many engaged in playful dueling, dancing, and staged attacks after the game was over. Player Sydney Rogers, who went from being human to a zombie partway through the week described the game as “a fun way to get to get to know people and relieve stress, well at least if you are a zombie. Even after getting hit by pool noodles and shot at all week, it is always one of my favorite weeks of the semester.” Kate Lyssy, president of the Urban Gaming Club, the organization that runs the Humans vs. Zombies game, said that she thought “it went great, even though it was smaller this semester than previous games. We definitely… had more enthusiastic people overall and I think it was a more balanced game too.” Moderator Chase Tyree agreed with Lyssy’s assessment, adding that the “zombies… did a really good job this game. Same with humans; everyone did well! Small games mean dedicated people playing.”